Challenges faced by young scientists

While writing a proposal for funding with the industry and battling with my son so he can finish his homework at 9 pm, I came across a very interesting question from Nature, what challenges do young scientists face? With the all too common suggestions about problems with funding and paperwork.

Funding in a country like Mexico is for sure an issue, but I guess I have been very fortunate to have the resources from government and industry alike to keep my group healthy and growing. This of course comes with a price and that is paperwork in all sort of formats, thesis to read, review, examine, papers, new grants to submit, reports to send, meetings with colleagues and students and the now constant trips to meetings and conferences so people get to know me. All in all, everything is part of the job and I wasn´t expecting anything less. At least for me the real struggle is not really funding or paperwork as such but TIME. Time to work, to rest and to spend with my FAMILY.

As young scientists we generally are also at the stage of forming a new family, with babies, toddlers and young kids playing, laughing, crying and even throwing things around. That means that the house is hardly in a very good state with tons of dirty cloths and dishes to wash and bits of food to pick up in every corner of the kitchen and living room. If you have a garden I bet it looks more like a jungle than a place of peace and tranquility where you can rest. For me, every moment I spend getting things sorted in my lab, is a moment I cannot spend with my family at home. I can see it right now, looking at my 7 years-old kid with whom I couldn´t go out to play with the dogs because I arrived late.

As young scientists we are in a stage where our kids and partners need us the most at home, a stage where we also have the urge to work more because in some/many cases we start with a brand new empty lab…full of potential but with no students and not a cent to even buy water. The feeling of finally being independent is amazing, but when you stand at the door of your empty lab you know that you have to get some students and money fast, really fast and that´s when the urge to work kicks and without realizing it you see your family less and less. I bet there are some who are good at balancing life and work, but I think it is at this stage where we easily go off-balance in many aspects of our life.  Here I am at 3 am trying to finish this post after falling asleep while putting my son into bed.

I guess I have to let go and finish this post, something that I think we are also in the stage of learning, we still don´t know when enough is enough.

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